It's been a long, challenging fall this year. In September I returned to work and we resumed the challenge and struggle of juggling home responsibilities with two parents in the workforce. This challenge was further complicated by Julia's start in full-time, real-deal school as a kindergartner, and an extensive therapy schedule for Mister Man. At the time I returned to the classroom in September, it was OT 2x per week, PT 2x per week, and Speech and Feeding 2x per week as well.
We headed back to the state for our 6 month review and to request an increase in his speech therapy in November. At almost 18 months, he still wasn't really talking, and he (and we) were getting increasingly frustrated. The state requested a psych evaluation, to determine if anything else was going on to impede his language development. We were sure it was just a technicality. Our speech therapist and our OT assured us it was just a technicality. Imagine how overwhelmed we were when the psychologist showed up, observed our son for about 20-30 minutes, and diagnosed him as PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Delay, Not Otherwise Specified - read: on the autistic spectrum). Now let me qualify, the psychologist was supposed to come at 5:30 PM, didn't show until 7 PM because of traffic and delays, and by that time Oliver was tired, cranky, hungry and running around like a tornado on crack. Anyone with children knows that is the PERFECT time to assess an 18 month old. HA.
We weren't sure about this diagnosis, so we sought out a developmental pediatrician at Cornell Medical Center on our own, and within 5 minutes she assured us he wasn't PDD-NOS, that his eye contact was too good, he was visually referencing everything that was going on in the room, looking from person to person during a conversation, etc. So a relief to be sure. However, with the new 'diagnosis' on Oliver's chart, his speech therapy increased to 5x per week, which we were thrilled about, and he received a behavioral therapist who would focus solely on helping him develop communication and life skills, and also help him develop self-soothing strategies. Right now his self-soothing strategy is... Mama. So Mister Man has 15+ hours of therapy a week. That's a lot of therapy for a little boy.
However, he has made TERRIFIC gains in the past 6 months. He has gone from sitting unsteadily to running, and pushing himself to stand in the middle of a room. He is signing please by clapping, saying 'Mo' for more, waving good bye and saying "Buh!" for bye, and announcing "HI!" when he walks into a room. He calls me Mama, Dave Daddy, and Julia is Oo-ah. Chloe, the cat, is 'Me-ow!" He is eating, though in the last three months he has grown 2 1/2 inches and lost 1/2 a pound... so we have work to do there.
As if all of these assessments, therapists and sessions weren't challenging enough, back in the early fall, I started noticing some staining on Oliver's teeth. While at Julia's 6 month cleaning, I asked the dentist to look in Oliver's mouth. She asked me to make an appointment to have a full cleaning done. THAT was fun. I took a full day off from work in anticipation of the mental recovery we would both need. It was necessary. Long story short? Oliver has cavities in EVERY ONE OF HIS SIXTEEN TEETH. Seems the acid reflux, the months of throwing / spitting up, the esophagitis, the medicine for the esophagitis all destroyed his teeth. In January, poor little boy will undergo anesthesia for the SECOND TIME in his short life, this time for 4-6 baby root canals, at least 4 crowns (two stainless and two polymer) and 10-12 fillings. Add to this the fact that Dave's dental insurance maxes out at $2,500 per patient per year, and you can imagine this is all pretty anxiety provoking. Our beach vacation may end up in Oliver's mouth this year. We are waiting on the estimate and crossing our fingers that our medical insurance will cover the anesthesia and not deem Oliver's dental work as 'elective.' You know, because cavities in EVERY ONE OF HIS TEETH caused by a MEDICAL CONDITION is elective.
Dave and I joke that Oliver is going to be crossing old ladies across the street in his teen years, be the captain of the basketball team, and get a full ride to Yale, while running drug abuse prevention programs in lower schools across NYC. Because he is using up his quota of parental worry before his second birthday.
Well, the countdown is on to the New Year, and this year instead of resolving the usual (you know, eat healthier, lose 10 pounds, run 4x per week, take time for me...) I am resolving to be a better Mom.
I have those moments where self-doubt creep in... (Did I do something / not do something / expose him to something / etc. etc. etc. _____ fill in the blank - when I was pregnant? Did he not get the stimulation that Julia did? Did I not have enough one on one time?)
And the moments where I compare... (When Julia was 12, 14, 18 months old she was ______)
And the moments when I struggle to find the patience... (I don't know if I can handle five more minutes of the whining... can you PLEASE FIND SOME WORDS TO TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT.)
And the moments of deflected frustration... (JULIA WHAT DO YOU WANT?? - as Oliver is hanging from my leg crying and I am trying to brush my teeth).
So this year, my resolutions are simple:
- Celebrate, savor the small moments, the small accomplishments, the tiny milestones.
- Live in the moment, banish the 'if-only's' from my mind and my vocabulary.
- Don't compare, celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of each child.
- Spend quality time with each child, every day, and find a moment, even if it is just a moment, for my husband and for myself. It makes me a better Mom.
- Breathe. Breathe again. And once more.